Here in the US we are entering the beginning of what people are believing will be a long winter. Time will tell. Winter can be a difficult time because of the winter storms that tend to bring a lot of harsh winds, ice, and snow. Especially in the north. And those of us who live in this region are familiar with a phenomenon known as "cabin fever." It isn't a true sickness in the sense of someone needing medicine or a vaccine. But it can turn into a sickness of the heart. A yearning for the warmer weather to return because until it does, most people must remain indoors.
And the winter months have fewer hours of sunlight so darkness arrives much earlier for several months at a time. Winter tends to make many people blue and nostalgic for the days that warmer weather brings. Days when folks can go outside and travel and do more.
I was thinking about this as I entered church this morning. The service today was focused on seven fellow church members who are going to be missionaries in a predominantly muslim country. We as a church prayed over them and listened to their testimonies.
One of the missionaries heading out use to be a family doctor, then became an ER doctor, and then he and his wife became missionaries in Russia for two years. They saw many amazing miracles from the Lord and saw souls saved. But then the doctor lost his wife to pancreatic cancer and he returned to the US alone.
It took time to deal with his grief but he shared how he was always aware of God's grace and love. And then he rededicated his life to God and is now heading into this new journey with a new team of fellow sisters and brothers in Christ.
But what really struck me was when he shared how God helped him overcome his grief. The doctor explained to us that he saw a lot of lives saved when he worked in the ER but he also saw a lot of death. And he said, " Do you know what people said when they were on their death beds? It wasn't how much they worked, or how many toys they had. They often said how they wished they had spent more time with their families. Friends, life is short. For some of us it may be shorter than we think."
His testimony blended so well with the sermon which was based on Romans 15: 20-24 which focused on Paul's ambition. The question posed to us by our pastor was this: What is your personal ambition in life?
And that pretty much brings my thoughts back to the beginning of this post. It is so easy to be focused on this life on Earth. Finding work, finding nourishment, finding and keeping a nice place to call home. These things are good but they don't have any eternal value. And yet so many of us get so wrapped up in our jobs, or searching for jobs, in what we eat and wear, and what to do to pass the time. And before we know it, a whole year has flown by and we have no significant character growth to show for it.
Perhaps some of us feel trapped in our circumstances. Or perhaps some of us are too afraid to do anything different because what we are currently doing works. Or maybe some of us don't honestly care to think about anything else beyond dying. The journey is different for each of us and yet it is the same.
I think, that just like the physical winters, many of us are in spiritual winters. And when we don't give God the time He deserves we become heartsick. We get the spiritual version of "cabin fever," always sensing and yearning for more in life and never being satisfied. Looking in everything for relief or distraction but never going to the one source that will actually satisfy.
Warmer weather, longer days of sunshine and adventure are possible for all of us anytime of year and in any season of our lives. The question is whether-or-not we will take the opportunities that come our way. And the only way we will know which opportunities are the ones that will bring to us a life we could only dream of is if we let God lead. Maybe that sounds too simple for some of you. Its okay. I understand that. For a time I felt that way too.
But now... now I feel different inside. I feel myself changing. I'm constantly aware of God's presence in and around me. Things that use to excite me no longer hold my attention. My desires, my vision... all of it is changing even when my circumstances have not. And when circumstances don't change it doesn't mean that God doesn't care. It does mean, however, that He is moving events and people around me, expecting me to prepare for the next phase of the journey.
So my ambition for this year is to put God first. I don't want to be in a spiritual winter this year. I want fear (harsh wind) doubt (ice) and selfishness (snow) to melt away. I want to see the sunlight, I want to feel it shine on my face.
None of us know what any year will bring but if Jesus Christ is in our hearts and minds then we don't have to be sad or afraid. He already wrote this chapter of our lives. He knows what we are destined to become. In His eyes it has already happened! Know that even the worst day of your life can be filled with hope and beauty when we rest, when we trust in the Lord.
Blessings to each of you. Be faithful. Be patient. Always be hopeful. God is with you.
" Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
~ Proverbs 19:21